The dream of the white elephant

Zoo Praha / Prague Zoo


The elephant has a firm place within the culture of several Asian nations. It occupies a significant position also in one of the major world religions, Buddhism. According to legend, a white elephant stood at the concetion of Buddha.

Photo: Kryštof Krejča Photo: Kryštof Krejča

One day the Buddha’s mother, Queen Maya, had a peculiar dream. In the dream, she ascended to heaven and met a white elephant there, bearing a lotus flower in its trunk. The elephant came to her bed, touched her right side and vanished into her.

When the queen related the dream to her husband the next day, he went to consult the priests. He received this assurance from them: the queen had conceived a son who would grow to be a great man. He would either become a powerful ruler or an important spiritual leader.

When the time for the birth came, the boy passed painlessly from his mother’s body at the place the elephant had touched her in the dream. Many years later, he adopted the name of Buddha and established a new religion. Thus the priests’ words came true.


Mobile application - the Elephant Valley

Discover the life of Asian elephants in the Prague Zoo! A mobile app will guide you through the Elephant Valley and show you the best vantage points, from which you can peek into their lives.